Candyman

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When it ended, Candyman was one of the few horror films that found me looking over my shoulder on the walk to my car. What is the first thing that separates this from Bernard Rose’s original, a film that posited as its monster a housing project located on the brink of Chicago’s affluent Gold Coast area? For one thing, there’s Sammy! One mention of the nauseatingly saccharine chart-topper in a 1992 horror film would have set audiences giggling. Here it acts as a faint reminder of the past. It’s not the only difference. Writer-director Nia DaCosta’s latest isn’t so much a remake, as most sequels are, but a continuation, an update. It’s the same housing project — the CG recreation of Chicago’s Cabrini Green is so precise that it looks like documentary footage — with the horror emerging from a different hole in the tenement wall. This time, it takes less than five minutes for the titular boogeyman to appear, and the handling of white guilt is much more pointed. Brianna (Teyonah Parris) is quick to state the obvious: “White people built the ghetto and erased it when they realized they built the ghetto.” Giving equal time to arrogance, Brianna lives on the very gentrified spot where the infamous housing project once stood. There is even one noticeable improvement: never repeat the title five times, particularly when standing alone in a mirrored elevator. One drawback of contemporary thinking is the establishment of a seemingly upstanding character who goes south if for no other reason than two bad guys are better than one. Other than that, there’s enough here to give your nerves a good rattling. (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated R | 1 hour, 31 minutes
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